Get Lucky: How to Put Planned Serendipity to Work for You and Your Business
April 2012, Jossey-Bass
As the pace of change accelerates and the volume of information explodes, we're under great pressure to connect just in time with the people and ideas we need to thrive. But we can no longer plan our way to success—there will always be factors beyond our control. This uncertainty, however, cultivates one of today's key drivers of success: serendipity. More than blind luck, serendipity can produce quantifiable results: breakthrough ideas, relationships that matter, effortless cooperation, synchronized market timing, and more. Get Lucky shows businesses how to succeed by fostering the conditions for serendipity to occur early and often.
- Distills planned serendipity into eight key elements: preparedness, motion, activation, attraction, connection, commitment, porosity, and divergence
- Features stories of serendipity in action at well-known companies including Avon, Target, Steelcase, Google, Facebook, Walmart, and more
- Written by serial entrepreneurs and cofounders of Get Satisfaction, a breakout platform for online customer service communities with over 100,000 clients
Planned serendipity is not an abstract, magical notion, but a practical skill. Get Lucky is the indispensable resource for anyone who wants to learn this skill and to make serendipity work for them.
2 Skill: Motion—Breaking Out 29
3 Skill: Preparation—Anatomy of a Geek Brain 53
4 Skill: Divergence—The Garden of Forking Paths 81
5 Skill: Commitment—Burning the Ships 103
6 Skill: Activation—Church vs. Stadium 127
7 Skill: Connection—Needle in a Haystack 157
8 Skill: Permeability—Storming the Castle 177
9 Skill: Attraction—Magnetic Fields 203
10 Unraveling the Double Bind 227
About the Authors 263
Lane Becker has been working onthe Web since it began, from settingup web sites at his university in 1994 to cofounding Adaptive Path, the world'sfirst user experience design firm, andGet Satisfaction. Lane is also an advisor to Freestyle.vc, an early-stage Internet venture capital fund.
“You’ve heard the old saw, ‘Chance favors
prepared minds.’ Well, Get Lucky is the mind-preparer.
This entertaining and practical book makes it clear that luck
isn’t just for the lucky anymore.”
—Dan Heath, co-author, Switch and Made to Stick
—Tim O'Reilly, CEO of O'Reilly Media
“We live in a world that is more and more volatile and
unpredictable, where ‘luck’ plays an increasingly
central role. By the end of this book, you will never again view
planning luck as a contradiction, but rather as an imperative that
cannot be ignored. Whether in your personal life or professional
life, open yourself up to the profound possibilities of
—John Hagel, co-chairman, Center for the Edge; and co-author, The Power of Pull
“Serendipity has been part of our not-so-secret sauce at
Zappos from the very beginning. We've seen first-hand how
breakthroughs are so often due to the spontaneous collisions
between people and ideas. Get Lucky provides a framework for
understanding how serendipity works, and shows how it can be used
as a practice in life and business.”
—Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com, Inc.; bestselling author, Delivering Happiness
“In a fast-moving world, seemingly random customer
comments on sites like Facebook can make your year or sink your
ship. Get Lucky prepares you and your organization well to
recognize and act on these serendipitous moments. Don't leave your
success to chance!”
—Charlene Li, Founder of Altimeter Group; author Groundswell and Open Leadership
“In business, we plan to avert disaster, launch products,
and forecast financials, but rarely do we plan to ‘get
lucky.’ Thor and Lane’s method of planned serendipity
should be part of every innovator’s toolkit.”
—Beth Comstock, chief marketing officer, GE
“Customers already run your company-and are moving farther
out of your control every day. Fortunately, Thor and Lane are here
to explain why this is the best possible thing that can happen, and
how to make the most of it.”
—Doc Searls, co-author, The Cluetrain Manifesto and The Intention Economy
Have you ever envied a competitor who wins by sheer good fortune while you toil away to no end?
It turns out such companies were not blessed by a random stroke of success, but in fact have learned how to diligently harness that one far too overlooked skill: Luck.
In GET LUCKY: How to Put Planned Serendipity to Work for You and Your Business (April 17, 2012; Jossey-Bass), Thor Muller and Lane Becker reveal that by practicing a specific set of skills we can help maximize luck so that it works in our favor. Muller and Becker call this approach “planned serendipity.”
The book itself is a product of “planned serendipity.” Inspired by their work at Get Satisfaction, the company they co-founded, Muller and Becker began to observe patterns exhibited by “lucky” companies and started their research into the interactions between luck, serendipity, chance, creativity, and business. This research led the authors to identify eight essential skills necessary to create “planned serendipity”: motion, preparation, divergence, commitment, activation, connection, permeability and attraction.
Featuring case studies from such varied companies as 3M, Google, Pixar, Procter & Gamble, In-n-Out, PayPal, CERN tell scores of stories about leveraging luck:
- It’s a myth that the $100 million a year Post-It note owes its success to luck. The conditions 3M created to harness “accidents” was no accident.
- Steve Jobs designed the Pixar building promote the serendipitous collaboration and creativity has become a hallmark of Pixar’s success.
- In-N-Out’s growth wasn’t due to undeserved luck, but instead a deliberate commitment to quality that allowed it to expand smartly unlike Krispy Kreme, whose more aggressive growth plans were far less successful.
Through these and many more examples, GET LUCKY shows how any organization can open up to outside people and ideas, discover unexpected insights by “living” with their customers peer to peer, and deliberately attracting chance collisions that will inspire creativity and new directions.
In a world like ours that is constantly in flux, we need to find a way to succeed while navigating the unpredictable. GET LUCKY provides us with the skills to do just that.